Speech by Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, at the launch of Investing in our Culture, Language & Heritage 2018-2027


10 April 2018

National Gallery of Ireland

Chairman [Michael Cush SC], Director [Sean Rainbird], Taoiseach, [members of the diplomatic community], Ministers [Donohoe, McHugh…], Lord Mayor of Dublin, elected representatives, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

As Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, I am delighted to be here for the launch of Infheistíocht inár gCultúr, inár dTeanga & inár nOidhreacht – Investing in our Culture, Language & Heritage 2018-2027 as part of Project Ireland 2040.

As the Taoiseach has said, the investment that we are announcing today is unprecedented in the history of the state – a total of €1.188bn over the next ten years.  This level of investment will transform our cultural infrastructure.

Seo ráiteas faoi thábhacht ár gcultúr don ghlúin seo agus do na glúnta atá le teacht. Baineann sé lenár bhféiniúlacht –  lenár luachanna mar náisiún.

This is an important statement for this and future generations – that our culture is fundamental to all of our lives.  It affects our education, our public buildings and public spaces.  It affects the relationship between the citizen and the state, and the relationship of citizens to each other.  It’s about our identity and our values.

Before I give you an outline of our plans for allocating this ten-year investment, I want to focus on a practical example of the power that cultural infrastructure can have.

The National Gallery of Ireland has been completely transformed. This transformation has taken place not just in terms of the fabric of the buildings, but in terms of its relationship to the people of Ireland, and also the tens of thousands of people from overseas who visit here.

Is inspioráid dúinn go léir an obair atá déanta anseo sa Dánlann Náisiúnta. Is Dánlann pobail é an áit seo anois. Tá sé oscailte do chuile dhuine, do chuile aicme, as chuile chúlra  – ag fógairt fáilte croíúil i bhfad agus i gcéin.

What has happened here is truly inspirational – and I want to particularly commend the gallery for its emphasis on the collective, democratic ownership of this wonderful institution.

The National Gallery is an object lesson in how a grand old cultural institution can renew itself, not just physically but also psychologically in its relationship to society.

On its website the gallery lists ten reasons to visit – among them the following gems:

  • Is your child a tiny Tintoretto, a mini Monet or a pint-sized Picasso? If so grab an ‘art backpack’ or a children’s audio guide and explore and create at the National Gallery! 
  • Get creative – Our permanent ‘Creative Space’ has all the materials you need to make your masterpiece and afterwards hang it in the space for all to admire
  • Learning and thinking – join a themed tour to gain a deeper insight into your new favourite works of art
  • Peaceful, quiet contemplation – enjoying great art is good for the soul and a great gallery is good for a stroll. Park yourself on a bench or ruminate in a room: it’s your gallery!

This is wonderful – it’s an approach to art and culture that embraces everyone, that combines fun with serious study.  This is the future, and this is the spirit that is increasingly imbued in all of our cultural institutions.

Previously inward looking, we are now looking outwards, engaging with the public, listening to the public, becoming an essential part of that overall cultural ecosystem that is envisaged in the Creative Ireland Programme.  What we want to create are institutions that are truly national – reaching beyond the cut stone walls and polished floors to reach every corner of the country.

And so Ladies and Gentlemen this is what we are going to do over the next ten years:

We will invest €460m in our National Cultural Institutions – that means significant investment in The National Library of Ireland, The National Archives, The National Museum, The Concert Hall, the Crawford Gallery in Cork, the Abbey, IMMA and the Chester Beatty Library.

We’re providing €40m for local arts infrastructure and €10m for digitisation.

We will support our burgeoning film and screen sector with investment of €200m.  To mark that investment I will shortly be signing a legal order to change the name of Bord Scannán na hÉireann/ the Irish Film Board to Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland to take effect from the 18th of June. The name change reflects the “vision” which the Government has for a vibrant screen industry in Ireland. Ar ndóigh – is i nGaeilge is fearr atá an brí le fáil – an “fís” sin atá againn do thionscal nua-aimseartha tógtha ar thraidisiún scéalaíochta na hÉireann ón chian-aimsear!

Galway, as European Capital of Culture in 2020 will be a beacon for Irish cultural creativity and we will support it with investment of €15m.

Our national parks, historic environment, built heritage, national monuments, natural heritage and biodiversity will see a combined investment of €285m

Agus feicfimid infheistíocht nua sa Ghaeltacht agus ar na h-oileáin le níos mó ná €150 milliún curtha ar fáil don Ghaeltacht, don Ghaeilge agus do na h-oileáin. Beidh mo chomhleacaí Joe McHugh ag caint faoi seo ar ball.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am proud to be continuing the work of my colleague and predecessor, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys.  Speaking in this room at the launch of Creative Ireland Minister Humphreys had this to say, words that I fully and wholeheartedly endorse:

…bringing our cultural heritage and potential into the centre of government policy is a radical step.  It changes forever the place of arts, culture and heritage in public policy.  It’s about recognising that culture permeates every aspect of our lives, from early years to old age, from schools to hospitals, from language to sports, embracing landscape and heritage.  It’s about personal wellbeing and it’s about social cohesion.

She also promised on that occasion that the government would ‘develop a five-year capital investment programme for the culture and heritage sector, to include collection building and digitisation projects both for museums and for our archives.’

I would also like to acknowledge the work of the Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations, under the stewardship of Dr Maurice Manning. The guiding principles of its Second Phase Mission Statement, which was published last October, provides a powerful and supportive structure as we approach the remembrance of key moments on our journey to becoming a sovereign nation.

In its Statement, the Advisory Group recommended that we ensure that ‘Irish cultural institutions that house material most relevant to the period … continue to play a central role in exploring and explaining the history of the period’.

I also want to take note of the crucial work that Katherine Licken, Secretary General of my Department, and her team undertook to deliver this plan.

With this ten-year plan we’re delivering on that commitment and going much further.  This ten-year vision allows for planning, consultation and development on a scale that even a few short years ago none of us thought possible.

The Taoiseach just now acknowledged the crucial role that our former Taoiseach Enda Kenny played in creating this new vision.  I want to acknowledge the role that our present Taoiseach has played.  From his very first day in office, the Taoiseach has emphasised the importance of culture and he has supported the Creative Ireland programme at every opportunity.  Without that commitment and support at the highest levels of government none of this would be possible.

Cultural infrastructure provides a home for all of us, a space for all of us to meet, to exchange ideas, to create the new, to imagine what could be.  As the Taoiseach said, we need to take the time now to think about what Cultural Infrastructure means in the 21st century, how it can better connect with and serve all of our people, and how it can support creativity in our communities.

We are all involved in a process of democratising our arts and cultural infrastructure.  Roscommon and Sligo and Athlone and Waterford must all have a strong voice in deciding what kind of cultural infrastructure they want – and how that infrastructure will connect to their broader social and economic development.

Tá ról faoin leith ag na h-údaráis áitiúla sa chomhrá seo. Faoi Chlár Éire Ildánach táimid tosaithe ar thuras chun céim suas a thabhairt don chultúr agus don chruthaíocht in obair na n-údarás áitiúl. Ba mhaith liom tógáil ar sin, agus ba mhaith liom an nasc idir na h-institiúidí cultúrtha agus ionaid chultúrtha réigiúnacha a neartú. Mar “ní neart go gur le chéile”.

Ladies and gentlemen, Jean Sibelius, the great Finnish composer said that “Art is the signature of civilization.”  With this plan we can make cultural infrastructure the signature of our time as custodians of our heritage.

Go raibh mile maith agaibh.


An Roinn Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta, 23 Sráid Chill Dara,Baile Átha Cliath - D02 TD30 (01) 631 3800 / Íosghlao: 1890 383 000

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